When I spotted this blogger challenge over on Foodies100 I was instantly drawn to it. We adore pasta in this house. Especially the ease of fresh pasta - where you can eat an amazing tasting meal quite literally in minutes. I also love being inspired by ingredients when I cook something. So having to come up with a recipe to complement Giovanni Rana's new pasta indulgence range was a challenge I couldn't resist.
Giovanni Rana pasta, whether it be the Simply Italian range or the Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence range, we need only add a knob of butter and it is perfect as it is without anything else.
However, I was determined to come up with something special that would truly complement my favourite pasta from the Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence range, which is the Gorgonzola (PDO) and Crunchy Mellow Walnut Large Ravioli. I wanted to choose flavours that would complement, taste unique and yet not overpower the fabulous taste of the Giovanni Rana pasta.
I pulled together some of the ingredients and flavours that I thought would work well together with the pasta and then got experimenting. Regular readers of this blog will know of my 8 year old son's little phrase that goes like this 'Good Chefs Experiment. Bad chefs don't'. And so whenever I need inspiration in the kitchen, I think of him. He's never afraid to have a go at coming up with new recipes and he is not worried if they don't work out right - he learns something new either way.
So I came up with three variations of the recipe so that I could put it to the family to taste test, pick out a favourite and blog about that. But it didn't quite turn out that way. Each person ended up with a different favourite so we actually ended up eating our meal as a selection of dishes in the currently fashionable 'small plate' style of dish so that we could all get to eat our favourite version.
As the core recipe is the same for all three versions, I will explain it all with the variations so you can decide which is your favourite.
1 pack Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence Gorgonzola (PDO) and Crunchy Mellow Walnut Large Ravioli
1 small red onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - chopped
20g fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of tbsp of the pasta water
Freshly grated parmesan to finish if desired
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Slice the Aubergine and place onto an oiled baking tray (use a good quality olive oil). Brush a little of the oil over the slices of aubergine too.
2. Place the aubergine in the oven for 20 minutes until roasted.
3. In a frying pan, fry the chopped red onion and garlic until softened and starting to brown in a little olive oil.
4. Once the aubergine is cooked, place in a bowl with the cooked onion and garlic, then add the capers, fresh basil, and mascarpone. Blend with a hand blender - but not too much. You ideally want to see (and taste) some of the texture of the ingredients.
5. Cook the Giovanni Rana Gorgonzola (PDO) and Crunchy Mellow Walnut Ravioli as per the pack instructions. Reserve a little of the cooking water.
6. Add the reserved cooking water to the aubergine mixture and blend a little more to loosen the mixture slightly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper according to taste.
7. Serve with the Giovanni Rani Ravioli. It is not a sauce, so should not be runny or drown the pasta. It is more of an accompaniment that is like a 'dip' in texture.
8. If desired serve with a side salad. I have created an ideal one to further complement the flavours of the pasta - See below for ingredients.
Variation 1: Aubergine with Sweet Pointed Red Pepper
Follow the method above, but at stage 2 chop 1 sweet pointed red pepper into chunks, brush with oil and place in the oven alongside the aubergine. Then at stage 4 include the roasted sweet pepper when blending the ingredients together.
Variation 2: Aubergine with Butternut Squash
Follow the method above, but at stage 2, peel and chop half a butternut squash into chunks, brush with oil and place in the oven alongside the aubergine. Then at stage 4 include the butternut squash when blending the ingredients together.
Chopped walnuts (adds an extra bit of crunch to really complement the walnuts in the pasta)
The finished dish:
This is my entry into the Foodies100 / Giovanni Rani blogger competition to create a recipe inspired by the Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence range of pasta. For more information see here.